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Come fall when early morning frost chills the bones, the diehards—guys and gals who rise before dawn without complaint—set up tents and trailers, grills and big screens in stadium parking lots across the Midwest. The heat is on. Flags fly, fight songs blast and grills blaze. These are the places where fans fuel up to cheer on a few fearless men as they clash bodies for the glory of a win.

The Big Game

This year a new rivalry begins. The University of Nebraska and the University of Iowa will go head-to-head in a much-anticipated Big Ten Conference game dubbed, “The Hy-Vee Heroes Game.” The newest trophy-game matchup, sponsored by Hy-Vee, will benefit nonprofit organizations in the Heartland.

“With the Heroes Game, Hy-Vee has a truly unique opportunity to sponsor two legendary football programs and what we believe will be the new classic post-Thanksgiving rivalry game,” Hy-Vee President and COO Randy Edeker said. “We also have the opportunity to use this great new rivalry to recognize some incredible people doing incredible good throughout the Heartland.”

The first Hy-Vee Heroes Game between Iowa and Nebraska on Friday, November 25, 2011, at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln will be televised nationally by ABC. In advance of the game, fans of each school will be encouraged to nominate everyday citizens of Iowa and Nebraska who deserve to be honored for extraordinary acts of heroism. One citizen-hero from each state will be invited to attend the game as a special guest of the teams, receive on-field recognition and have his or her name inscribed on the game trophy.

Whether you’re cheering for a Big Ten or Big 12 team, your favorite high school or pee-wee game, Hy-Vee can help build a spread that will make every game day a winner.

Tailgating: Football Fuel

Early morning risers warm up with breakfast bagels made fresh in the parking lot. The eggs are cooked in a large-size muffin tin sprayed with cooking spray. Place the tin on the grill and crack open the eggs. The sausages and bagels can be placed directly on the grate.

During the countdown to game time, the go-to foods are meat, cheese, vegetable and fruit trays from the Hy-Vee deli. You can find all the favorites, including saucy ribs and hot wings.

Round out the feast with a trio of meatballs—turkey, ham and beef—and companion sauces, little smokies in KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce and an eye-popping sub sandwich with Creamy Horseradish Sauce. This spread will satisfy even the most famished fans.

Count on Special Teams

Huddle with your Hy-Vee deli and catering department for a mealtime game plan that lets you focus on the fun. Sure crowd-pleasers are an assortment of deli trays, ready-made salads, chips and salsa and the makings for a super sub sandwich featuring Hy-Vee deli meats and cheeses.

For food you make at home, there’s no need to stress on prep the day of the game: Bake turkey—or beef or ham—meatballs the night before. For the trip to the stadium, seal meatballs tightly in plastic containers. As game time gets closer, rewarm the meat on a portable grill or if you have one, an RV’s microwave oven.

The sauces can also be prepared at home, but it’s best to serve the two hot sauces from slow cookers and the cold sauce set in a larger bowl of ice on-site. Use colorful little slow cookers, available at Hy-Vee in several colors, for the sauces and little smokies. And don’t forget tailgating essentials: plenty of hot and cold drinks, salty and sweet snacks, trash bags, a team-colored tablecloth (look for team logo products at select Hy-Vees), plates, napkins, plastic ware, ice, coolers, grills and serve ware.

Source: Hy-Vee Seasons Fall 2011.

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